INSET : Gender Differences in the Classroom

Teaching boys and girls

“Absolutely excellent. Quite simply the best course I’ve ever been on. Incredibly useful, practical, inspirational.”
Deputy Head, Cambridge

But why does the subject of gender differences continue to be so controversial..?

…Real-life observations demonstrate clear examples such as the fact that insurers quote higher premiums when young men apply for car insurance; most lower sets and special needs groups in school are boy-heavy; around 60% of high-achieving women turn down promotions in the workplace or take positions with lower pay to weave more flexibility into their work life etc etc…

Forty years of discounting biology has brought  us to a strange and discomforting place – but actually equality never meant ‘sameness’ – what it was really all about was equity of opportunity – and that’s different. So perhaps these factors are not evidence of hidden prejudices but more a case of looking at the science to form a nuanced understanding of gender differences that reveals certain traits, and pinpoints exactly where we might direct our efforts for change.

Research on Gender Differences in the Brain

The research on gender differences in the brain has been expanded recently by Simon Baron-Cohen from Cambridge University. His work suggests that most differences arise from biological rather than cultural causes. Whilst clearly it is a broad gender spectrum with a fair amount of overlap, the theory provides a rationale for what we do and why something may not be working and, crucially, it also gives us a set of ideas for decision-making.

Who is this INSET for ?

This INSET examines a range of ideas of benefit to both teachers and students in ensuring that we support ALL our students in achieving their best possible outcomes.

This INSET is would be ideal as a Keynote speech at an educational conference or as talk for parents.

INSET Outline

An overview of the neuroscience

From birth to teenage

Learning and behavioural characteristics

Nature v. nurture?

How differences in nurturing can impact on learning

Building effective student: teacher relationships

What you say versus what they hear

Where next?

Vital questions to ask a) across whole school and b) departmentally

Have we got a problem?

Optional Buzz session to share information about practice and procedures:

Using data from sources such as PANDA, exam results, SATs scores, baseline assessment, bench-marking with similar schools etc. to determine whether the school has a significant problem regarding the achievement of boys and girls and then using that data to consider

Are there any differences in achievement between the genders?


– at certain key stages?
– in certain subjects?
– in certain aspects (e.g. writing) within subjects?

 If so, do we know why?

A Practical Toolkit

Leaders in single-sex Boys schools could also consider our Raising Boys Achievement & Engagement INSET

This INSET weaves together the brain science with child and adolescent development to develop whole school and classroom strategies that are both effective and easily applicable.

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